A date is not just the four numbers as we see, but it transcends deep down into the history. And passion for football grows like a parasite; a leap of faith into the pages of history can land you amidst untouched treasures. It was quite the same as three great events in the timeline of today’s soccer history are remembered with elegance in the followed up piece –
World War II – Stalin’s troops invade England – Cold war (13th November, 1945)(Dynamo Moscow’s undefeated English trip in non-political words) The Great Britain was still reeling from the world war II; the game of football never ceased though. A pragmatic FA invited Dynamo Moscow in their own backyard for a month-long tour in celebration of the return of the game. Even before the airplane, embossed with the Communist Star, landed on the tarmac of Craydon airport, British Media had written off the visitors in any kind of contest. Completely unknowns, the Soviet Union players stood against English arrogance in a chilly afternoon on 13th November, 1945. The opponent was the mighty Blues’, who had just signed English iconic striker Tommy Lawton.
The Russians had most of the ball but Chelsea had the 2-0 lead at the half time. The things were turning out to be as predicted, only when the best from the Dynamo players changed the destiny. The English were shown how the beautiful game had evolved in the Eastern parts of the Europe in their ignorance. A stunning team-work and fluid like passing saw a memorable turn around from the visitors when a late strike from Bobrov ended the match at 3-3.
59 years back on this day at Stamford Bridge, Russians showcased a new system of play- Passovotchka to the rest of the world. In a 4-2-4 formation, the front five were constantly changing their positions and a quick penetrating passing was key to their system, added with physical exertion. Later in this tour, they went on to thrash Cardiff by 10-1 and dominated Arsenal to a 4-3 win. They ended their happy excursion undefeated after drawing with Rangers in front of 85000 spectators at Ibrox.
Trivia: Arsenal’s Highbury was still occupied by the ministry of Defence due to an air raid precautionary center opened up during World war. As a result, the gunners had to play at their rivals’ home ground White Hart Lane, which was common during the wartime. The Dynamos’ visit to North London was rather blurred with controversy. The misty fog played a pivotal role in the allegations of cheating and sneaking in extra players into the pitch from the both sides.
A Derby d’Italia to remember (13th November, 1949)
Torino had the exclusive rights over Italian football in the 1940’s but a tragic Superga air disaster, which killed a whole Juventus team with its officials, ended their dominance. The 1949-50 Scudetto race was wide open to interest the giants from Milan. Juventus was at the top of table and Inter was right below them when this thundering clash in Derby d’Italia history began. Faas Wilkes scored one and created one for Lorenzi to put Inter 2-0 ahead before the break.
Juve coach Jesse Carver, not-so-good with his Italina, ran into the pitch to convey Piccinini his instructions to contain Wilkes using physical motions. That moment changed the course of the game as I Nerrazurri’s attack was neutralised as was Wilkes. John Hansen scored twice to equalise just before the hour mark and Paccinini completed a remarkable come back by finding the back of the net with just 15 minutes to go.
Socceroos Make History (13th November, 1974)
Now 24 years past, we head back to Hong Kong – a decider between Australia and South Korea for a place in 1974 World Cup. The competing teams played two pulsating draws in the home and away legs of the qualifier. The match in Sydeny ended at 0-0, whereas at Seoul, Australia came back to earn a 2-2 draw. In today’s rules, the men in yellow could have progressed directly in terms of away goals but back in 1973, FIFA decided to arrange an one-off match in Honk Kong to decide the fate of two footballing nations.
The tension was breeding around in front of the 28000 spectators at the Hong Kong national stadium as both the teams failed to find the back of the net after 70 minutes. Then came the moment, a 25-yard screamer from Jimmy Mckay still resonates in Australian football. That thunderous strike sealed the match for the Socceroos and they earned their place into the top 16 nations of the world.
With a team entirely composed of amateurs, it was a job well done for the entire team and officials to play in the World Cup for the first time in their Country’s history. Later, The Socceroos qualified in 2006, 2010 and 2014 – three years in succession to become a familiar face in the World’s biggest stage. But, do remember that now the tournament is played with 32 teams, but, back in 1973, with only 16 places up for grabs, it was quite an achievement to make their presence known to the football world.